Books Non-fiction Wednesday Nonfiction Picture Books

[Nonfiction Wednesday] Born for Greatness: Young Pelé, Soccer’s First Star

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Fats here.

We are delighted to join the Nonfiction Picture Book meme 2016 hosted by Alyson Beecher @ Kid Lit Frenzy. We would also be linking our nonfiction choices with our reading themes throughout the year.


Young Pelé: Soccer’s First Star

Text by: Lesa Cline-Ransome
Art by: James E. Ransome
Publisher: Schwartz & Wade Books (2007)
ISBN-13: 9780375871566

“Some are born great, some achieve greatness,
and others have greatness thrust upon them.”
— William Shakespeare


With the recently concluded Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, I thought I would share something sports-related. I came across this copy of Young Pelé: Soccer’s First Star from a special display in our library that pays tribute to sports. Published in 2007, this picture book biography talks about the early years of retired Brazilian professional soccer player, Pele, who is widely recognized as one of the greatest athletes of all time.

Born as Edson do Nascimento, Pelé had humble beginnings. He lived with his parents, Dondinho and Dona Celeste, his younger brother and sister, and his grandmother in the small town of Bauru in Sao Paulo, Brazil. Pelé’s father was a former soccer player but was unable to play in a professional team because of a knee injury.


Right from the start, author Lesa Cline-Ransome clearly portrayed Pelé’s love for soccer. In school, Pelé had gotten scolded by his teacher for not paying attention. Pelé would replay soccer matches in his head instead of memorizing his lessons. He was punished for his actions but that did not deter him from practicing after school.

Pelé and his friends formed a local team and named themselves “Shoeless Ones” because they were so poor that they could not afford to buy shoes. This, however, did not stop them from playing against other teams in town. The father of three of Pelé’s friends offered to be their coach and bought them shoes. They went from being the “Shoeless Ones” to being known as “Amériquinha” (Little America).


Young Pelé: Soccer’s First Star is an inspiring story about humble beginnings, raw talent, determination, and a young boy’s ability to overcome tremendous odds to achieve his goals (literally and figuratively!). If you ever need books about athletes, you should definitely include this in your reading list!


4 comments on “[Nonfiction Wednesday] Born for Greatness: Young Pelé, Soccer’s First Star

  1. I think I included this in some of my presentations on multicultural PBBs – such an inspiring story! 🙂


  2. Pele was my first introduction to soccer, a sport I’d never heard of until he entered our news. The book looks great-love those illustrations!


  3. This is a great post! Now I just need to look up Pele! 😉


  4. Soccer books are always a hit – it’s amazing the power soccer has to unite people, more so than any other sport I’ve known. I live in a very multicultural city, but soccer is something kids almost always seem to have in common, wherever they come from!


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